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2014 Subaru Forester: Different for a Reason

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On: Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 11:09AM | By: Teddy Field

2014 Subaru Forester: Different for a Reason

The 2014 Subaru Forester is a practical SUV, intended for people who value function over style. It doesn't adhere to current styling trends, nor does it pretend to be a luxurious baby Lexus. Subarus have always been a bit different, and they have the reputation to get away with it. There's an over-abundance of capability and practicality built into each new model. So, they're going to sell, no matter what they look like.

The 2014 Subaru Forester is all new this year, and it expands on the features that made it popular in the first place. Chief among them is the surprisingly agile handling, which really is impressive for a light-off-road vehicle with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. This is made possible by a unique engine design, and one of their standard AWD systems.

First off, the Forester comes with one of two “Boxer” 4-pots (a 170-hp 2.5L, or a 250-hp turbo 2-liter), in which the cylinders lie flat, instead of standing upright. Flat-4 engines are about half the height of a normal 4-cyl, which allows them to be mounted much lower in the engine compartment. By putting the weight much lower in the chassis, the truck's center of gravity will be lower, thereby keeping the body from leaning (bodyroll) in turns and curves. With less shifting weight to deal with, the standard Symmetrical AWD system has an easier time keeping the Forester on its intended path. All of this adds up to a five-passenger crossover with flat cornering on the pavement, a smoother ride, and plenty of ground clearance to get you through the rough stuff.

On the 2014 Subaru Forester, the version of Symmetrical AWD depends on the transmission. 2.5L models with the 6-speed manual get the tried-and-true older version that uses a locking viscous coupling center differential to keep power divided 50:50 between the axles. Foresters equipped with the new CVT... yawn... come with a new 'active' version that constantly adjusts the power delivery to maintain grip in all conditions. A new X-Mode feature has also been added to the options list, and it's designed to take control of major vehicle systems like the transmission, brakes, and the center differential, to keep the Forester moving in difficult situations. With no low-range gearing, the Subaru Forester isn't intended for hardcore off-roading. But the X-Mode function gives it a lot more capability than anything else in its class.

This combination of confident handling and off-road prowess is unique to the segment, and it all comes standard for around $22k. You can add niceties to the popular Forester 2.5 (CVT MPG = 24/32/27)—like a panoramic roof, heated leather, and touchscreen navigation—by selecting one of the various trim levels. If you want the hot turbo-4, you have to step up to the $33k 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT (MPG 23/28/25). But it comes with most of the popular luxury features, a sport suspension with 18-inch wheels, and a drive mode selector to change its driving characteristics, depending on your mood/needs. Subaru's new EyeSight camera-based automatic braking system is optional on both models.

The 2014 Subaru Forester is brilliantly capable, and probably as durable as concrete. The styling, however, is a love-it or hate-it affair for most people. Similarly, the interior is certainly nice, but its simple, functional design will appeal only to certain people. And that's probably why Subaru makes all of their vehicles so willfully... unique. They want to attract customers that will actually love their Subarus.

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